2016 | Our Year of Travel Review

Our first big year of travel. And its mainly thanks to saying goodbye to the UK and our retail jobs and heading to Vietnam to pursue new careers as teachers. Without a doubt the best decision of 2016.

We started this blogging space in August and have since been a bit slow with sharing our travels in Asia. But believe it or not, we’ve actually seen and done a lot and are in the process of working through the blogging back-log. Here’s a review of our 2016 travels since starting So the Adventure Begins!

August:

Moved to Vietnam, and began exploring our new home of Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it was originally known.

September:

Our beach-side perch while in Nha Trang.

Nha Trang, central Vietnam. For our first trip since the big move we decided to take it easy and head to the beach city of Nha Trang, where we relaxed on the beach, BBQ’d our own dinner and spent an afternoon taking in the peace and quiet of the Po Nagar Cham ruins.

 

Yellow walls, lanterns and dark-wood shutters. A typical building in the quaint town of Hoi An.

Hoi An, central Vietnam. We spent a glorious three days wandering around the yellow closes of this traditional little town, getting lost, learning to cook, paddling through the coconut groves and cycling through rice paddies to the beach. The only regret of our trip was not cashing in on the dense population of tailors and getting some custom made clothes, bags and shoes – but theres always next time, right?

October:

Badass biker selfie. Had to be done.

Da Nang, central Vietnam. This was a very last minute trip and after a series of arrival mishaps we found ourselves left with a slightly negative view of Da Nang. Thankfully our trip was magically turned around after an exhilarating day of motorbike touring with Easy Rider. We drove through fishing villages, up the Son Tra mountain where we explored temple complexes and onto the world famous Hai Van Pass. We loved it so much that we headed off with them again the following day, to the ancient religious site of My Son (similar to Angkor in Cambodia) and Marble Mountain!

 

Cycling the island in search of hidden beaches. That turquoise!

Phu Quoc, Southern Vietnam. Another last minute trip, but this one booked only 4/5 hours in advance! We were blessed with some sunshine in the middle of monsoon season and got sunburnt on hidden beaches, cycled 14km to a waterfall and then got caught in the monsoon rains on the 14km cycle back through the hills. With locals driving past in trucks laughing at us struggling uphill in our soaking wet clothes, peeping their horns…but not stopping to offer us a lift. Urg, not fun but what can you do but laugh about it!

 

Learning about the history of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam. At the end of October our old roomie and close friend came to visit us which was amazing. We showed him our favourite things to do and eat in Saigon and did some tourist activities together. We learned about the Vietnamese-American war in the museums, had lunch at Pho Binh and ventured into the tunnels at Chu chi. We had rooftop drinks, dinner in the dark and sampled street food at Ben Thanh food market.

November:

David fist-bumping the local residents of the Batu caves.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our residency cards arrived and we are finally able to venture outside of Vietnam. First up was KL where we saw the Patronas towers light up, hiked to Batu Caves and wandered through little India and China town. We at hawkers markets and enjoyed the high life, drinking rooftop cocktails. We swam on the 37th floor of our Airbnb and got the best view in the city from the Menara Sky Deck.

 

The intricate window design of houses in Melaka.

Melaka, Malaysia. We left behind the hustle and bustle of KL in search of some traditional calm, finding Melaka, our second UNESCO town of the year, the perfect place to recharge. We wandered through the quiet streets, in awe at the beautiful and unique Portuguese architecture – remnants of the colonial period before the British took over.

 

Celebrating Davids birthday pretending he isn’t as old as he is!

Singapore. A birthday treat for David. Singapore was a refreshing break from everywhere else we’ve visited with its world class transport system, clean streets and polite citizens it was a welcomed change. We became hipsters in Haji Lane, ate in little India, took in the impressive scale of Gardens by the Bay, visited the best zoo (in the world?) and browsed the markets of Chinatown. On Davids birthday we acted like big kids in Universal Studios, had dinner on the boardwalk and finished off the day with drinks at one of the highest rooftop bars in the world (64 floors up).

December:

The famous Angkor Wat temple.

Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our christmas adventure started with an advertised 12 (actually 13.5+) hour bus to the northern city of Siem Reap. Here, we explored Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples by tuktuk, got up at silly o’clock to watch the sunrise from behind Angkor Wat and sampled all of the hipster eateries in Siem Reap. We really feel in love with this little city created to cater for the tourism of Angkor, surprised us on all accounts.

 

The quietest, most idilic beach you will ever set foot on.

Koh Rong Samloem, Southern Cambodia. Following a busy few days in Siem Reap exploring the temples of Angkor, we headed south to the beautifully unspoiled island of Koh Rong Samloem. We spent our Christmas day in-and-out of the crystal clear turquoise waters, writing messages in the powdery white sand and taking a step back from technology. We have both agreed, that Koh Rong Samloem is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been to and possible ever will. Before we left we were already trying to figure out if we could make a trip back happen during our weekly 2 days off (and no, it logistically won’t work and we’re devastated).


Travelling round-up

4 months, 4 countries, 11 destinations*, 16 planes, 3 buses, 1 boat. 16 beds slept in, 2 sunrises, too many motorbike taxis to count (sorry mum and dad). Only 2 meals cooked at home, a few taxi scams and many arguments – don’t worry, we almost always make up 😉

*Not including HCMC but including Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia where we spent brief overnights.

We know that our adventures are pretty small scale compared to many others in the travel blogging sphere, but to have been able to see all of these destination, in 4 different countries within 4 months. We feel super blessed. And this is only the beginning of our travel adventures! What a prospect!

Our savings are starting to build up and we already have adventures planned for this month, February, March and May. Other than that, who knows where this year will take us?! But with our burning wanderlust, its sure to only top 2016.


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Where did you get to travel in 2016, local and international? Do you have any plans for 2016 yet? Let us know in the comments!

Alternatively, where would you like to see us explore in 2017?!

2 Comment

  1. Amy says: Reply

    What a great year! Reading this made me miss Vietnam actually but luckily we are going back to Hanoi for a short visit/visa run next month. Looking forward to seeing what you have planned for 2017; if you’re heading to Chiang Mai before May, let me know!

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      I have a feeling we’ll be similar to you, we totally get the frustrations of living here (ahem, motorbikes driving on the pavements?!) but we will miss it when we leave. I wish we were headed back to Thailand, Chiang Mai was our favourite and I’d love to explore it more – you’d be an expert guide by now I imagine! Will keep in touch for sure!

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